KENNETT SQUARE >> The special players — the truly special ones that refuse to lose and do whatever it takes to lead their team to victory — are a pleasure to watch ply their craft.
Friday night at Reynolds Gymnasium, Kennett’s Andrew “Buzz” Hertz showed how truly special he is.
Hertz did everything he could to will his Blue Demons to victory, scoring a game-high 31 points to go along with 11 rebounds as Kennett defeated Great Valley, 75-68, in double overtime to win a key Ches-Mont American Division clash.
But no one in Kennett will remember any of those numbers when they think back to Friday night’s thriller.
It was Buzzy’s buzzer-beater.
After Will Fredrick drained two free throws with 2.2 seconds to go in the first overtime, Hertz took an inbound pass, dribbled twice and sank an incredible 75-foot shot at the buzzer to send the game into double overtime.
Kennett (4-1 Ches-Mont American, 5-1 overall) outscored a shocked Great Valley (2-1, 3-1) team 8-1, in the second overtime to come away with the thrilling victory.
“I mean, I had a little more time than I thought, also I took an extra dribble,” Hertz said. “And I squared up and it felt good when I shot it. And thankfully it went in the basket.”
Great Valley started the game like it was going to blow the Blue Demons off their own home court. The Patriots shot a torrid 15 for 22 from the field in the first half and came away with what looked like a solid 35-24 halftime lead.
The Blue Demons regrouped at halftime and outscored Great Valey 14-7 in the third quarter. Great Valley shot just two for 13 in the third stanza and Kennett trailed, 42-38, after three frames. Kennett outscored the Patriots 35-24 in the second half.
“We talked without the coaches at halftime and we said let’s pick up the energy,” Hertz said. “We know this is our year to compete with the Great Valleys, and Rustin and Unionville so we felt we had to get it done in the second half.
Great Valley was led by the team-high 20 points from Julian Steinbrenner, who drained five 3-pointers, and it looked like the Patriots would escape with the win in regulation. But, two key missed free throws down the stretch put the game into overtime as Kennett kept clearing out a side for Hertz, who banged his way to his virtuoso, 31-point performance.
“I mean he is our best player so why not put the ball into his hands,” Kennett coach Jacob Gray said. “No one plays more basketball than Buzz so we know he can do it when it counts. What turned them around was the kids decided to start communicating on defense in the second half and make things uncomfortable for them. This is a real fun team to watch and coach when they do those things.”
Great Valley shot zero for five from the field in double overtime and after Hertz’s miraculous, game-tying half-court shot at the end of the first overtime, it looked like a little air was taken out of the Patriots. Ethan Schmidt started things in double overtime for Kennett as he drained a jumper from the right side for a 71-67 lead.
Great Valley tried valiantly, but the Patriots could not find their first-half shooting touch. Hertz scored six points in double overtime and the Blue Demons are tied at the top of the Ches-Mont American with Great Valley and West Chester Rustin after the thrilling win.
“We just picked up the energy at halftime,” Kennett senior forward Sam Forte said. “We were down 11 but we did not feel like we were down that much. This team really believes in each other and we brought the energy on every possession.”
Kennett 75, Great Valley 68
GREAT VALLEY (68): Wellener 2 0-0 4. Broxton 5 0-0 11, Steinbrenner 6 3-4 20, Corrigan 0 0-0 0, McKay 0 0-0 0, Fredrick 4 5-6 13, Junior 2 1-2 5, Dimedio 3 2-2 8, Gal 2 0-0 5, Wrabley 1 0-0 2. Totals 25 11-15 68.
KENNETT (75): Augustine 2 3-4 7, Frazier 0 0-0 0, Schmidt 6 0-0 15, Forte 0 3-4 3, Ebaugh 3 4-6 10, hertz 9 12-18 31, Lower 2 3-3 8, Good 0 1-2 1. totals 22 25-38 75.
Great Valley 17 18 7 17 8 1 – 68
Kennett 12 12 14 21 8 8 – 75
3-point goals: Steinbrenner 5, Broxton, Gal, Schmidt 3, Hertz, Lower.